Monday, February 16, 2009

Protest closing of Holyoke Geriatric Authority

65 elderly men and women will have to leave their home; another 65 elderly will lose services that help them stay in the homes they have now-- unless we can do something about it.

I don't often write about the paid work I do for the Mass. Senior Action Council, because I am not the spokesperson, I am the organizer. In this case, however, the situation is so urgent that I want to get the word out anyway I can-- and my own organization, Arise for Social Justice, was the one that tipped me off first to the threatened closing of the Holyoke Geriatric Authority.

The Holyoke Geriatric Authority may have other financial problems-- in this day and age, what agency doesn't?-- but what prompts the Authority into asking permission to close its doors is the failure of Gov. Patrick to release a million dollar bond he promised them last August. It's all too easy to make cuts in programs where the recipients of the services are presumed to have the least political power to protest. Let's make sure that's not true in this case.

Here are two links to MassLive stories about the closing, and here is the press release we've sent out.

Please join us on Wednesday, February 18 at 12:30 pm. in front of the Governor's Western Mass office, Springfield, MA on Dwight St. Here's a link to a Google map to the site.



Community organizations and members will be holding a protest over the closing on the Holyoke Geriatric Authority this Wednesday, February 18, at 12:30 p.m. in front of Governor Patrick’s Western Mass. Office, 436 Dwight St., Springfield.

Because the state has failed to release a $1,000,000 bond it promised the Holyoke Geriatric Authority in August, 2008, the Authority administration says it has no choice but to close its doors and relocate its 65 residents. The facility also provides off-site services to an additional 65 elderly community members.

John W, Bennett. President of Mass. Senior Action Council said, “I was born and brought up in Holyoke, and I am dismayed that the Holyoke Geriatric Authority facility is in danger of being shut down, For as long as I can remember, Holyoke has provided a place where the elderly could get affordable care when their families could no longer care for them. In these times when seniors are faced with rising costs for food, shelter and health care, it would be a mistake to shut down this important facility, especially if State funding which could keep the facility open has, in fact, been earmarked for the Authority.

“We must also consider the impact on the facility’s workers and the Holyoke economy if 130 workers lose their jobs. In a time when the national focus is on a stimulus package to increase the number of good available jobs, it seems inappropriate to allow this facility to close. Massachusetts should be providing the funds to keep this place open, and then use stimulus funds to ensure that these workers keep their jobs and that they receive proper pay for the work that they do.”

Arise for Social Justice President Don James says his organization condemns the failure of Gov. Patrick to release the bond which will result in the sudden closing of the Holyoke Geriatric Authority.

“We are deeply concerned this closing will have a traumatic effect on the residents of the Holyoke Geriatric Authority who will be forced to find housing on very short notice. Relocating a person at an advanced age can be a death sentence. We call on Governor Patrick and the legislators to release the promised bond to this valuable social services asset and to allow the Holyoke Geriatric Authority to remain open and operational for the people who have called it home for many years.

“We hope the community will join us in opposing the closing,” James said.

For more information, contact the Mass Senior Action Council at 786-3741 or 455-3829, or Arise for Social Justice at 734-4948.

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